A Turnkey or Not?

Tony Levy is a former prison officer who served in Her Majesty's Prison Service. He is from London. His debut work is called A Turnkey or Not? It is an autobiography of his twenty-five year career, "a warts and all revelation of what really goes on behind the closed door of the UK's penal establishments."

 Levy describes the book further. In it, he chronicles how his career and personal life paralleled each other. "The book charts my early career from 4 July 1993 until my subsequent disillusionment of the service and my eventual early retirement. A chance meeting on holiday in Majorca changed my life forever and launched me into a 25 year career in a job that I never would have considered previously: working in Her Majesty’s Prison Service. This book catalogues my personal experiences of working as a prison officer, from my early days at high security HMP Pentonville to my final years in therapy-based HMP Grendon. Filled with interesting observations and incidences, hilarious wind-ups and memorable characters, this autobiography is the story of a journey, from the happiest days in what will always be a potentially volatile environment to a complete state of disillusionment as an old dinosaur that no longer fitted into the modern prison service world. The book is filled with amusing incidents and anecdotes in my early days through my promotions, running the London Marathon, meeting my wife until my complete disillusionment of how our prison service is being run. You meet the characters that made our jobs more bearable, until their demise through political correctness gone mad. How decisions at the top were made and changed at a moment’s notice to fulfill the ambitions of our politicians. I give an honest account of my feelings, as someone who would never be a yes man and toe the party line, in the face of a constantly changing environment that had become increasingly controlled by political correctness gone mad and by budgetary needs rather than human needs. I am a man who cared, and even though my heart was sucked out of my job, I never lost my dignity or respect. Most importantly, I would never allow myself to be reduced to just a turnkey. Until I could take no more taking early retirement from a job I loved, my heart sucked out and my ambitions in tatters.The book will make you smile and laugh and then cry and feel how I did, but then with renewed hope as I left to start a new life."

In order to decide what to write, "Basically I wrote direct from my memory. It is still surprising that I remember incidents from my past so clearly and often think to myself 'damn I could have put that into my book'"

People inspire Levy to create. "I am a great people watcher mainly thanks to the fact that I have always worked with the public and especially now working at one of the busiest Airports in the world. People's behaviour is just so fascinating."

His publisher designed his book covers. "They came up with the design and I approved it."

His challenge was not in writing his work but, "Getting my book published was much harder than the actual writing of it. But that is true for any new Author. You have to be very thick skinned to accept all the rejection letters and still keep going."

His favorite authors are "Winston Churchill, his memory and ability to put into words what he saw and was thinking. He was a great orator as well as a great leader for Great Britain at the time we needed one. William Shakespeare for the obvious reason of his world  repute. Charles Dickens for his ability to capture the mood and tone of his time." Some new authors have grasped Levy's interest. "I read so many new books, mainly on holidays, so I look for easy reading with a good gripping storyline. Lee Childs, Tom Clancy, Leon Uris, Bill Bryson are great easy to read authors."

His writing influences include "Probably Winston Churchill, and Jimmy Greaves (A British footballer who wrote an autobiography)," while musical influences "on my life has been John Lennon and Freddie Mercury for their music and lyrics are just incredible to listen to."

When asked about himself and anything that he would like to share with readers, Levy said, "I thought I had lived a very dull mundane life until I wrote my book and realised we all have had interesting and amusing incidents throughout our lives. I have held the FA Cup (English Football). At aged 15, I ran a sub four minute mile. This was in 1966, a local record at the time."

In order to promote his work, Levy uses "Social Networking, I have attended a few book signings at Waterstones in the UK, and appeared on a few BBC local radio stations, all very enjoyable."

You may find out more about and communicate with Tony Levy at the following:

Tony Levy

A Turnkey or Not?

Tony Levy on Twitter